It’s been more than a year since Hawaii introduced a new program aimed at keeping food establishments safe, but can more be done?
“I can see more big changes coming,” said Tom Frigge, President of TOBE Co. Food Safety.
Frigge helps restaurants prepare for health inspections by grading their performance. He says one inspection a year by the Department of Health is good, but why not have more.
“Some of my customers have got 100 percent scores in the past and then the next time I go back, a month or so later, and they are back down to the 80’s again because they let up,” said Frigge.
Last July the Department of Health started a new placard system to better monitor how restaurants were preparing and storing food.
Since it started three restaurants were shutdown for health violations, they have since reopened after making the necessary changes.
“Since the start of the program we have issued over 2,000 yellow placards and right now we don’t have anyone flagged or potentially moving toward a red card,” said Peter Oshiro with the Department of Health.
Green means the restaurant is in good standing, yellow means there are violations, and a red placard closes down the establishment.
While the health department says the new program has been successful, they still think it can improve and that is why they are making some changes.
“So we are tiering our risk inspections based on the risk of the establishments,” said Oshiro. “So the high risk or food services will be inspected a lot more often.”
That means starting soon restaurants that handle raw meat will be inspected three times a year instead of just once. Fast food restaurants will be inspected twice a year, and places like bakeries or places that don’t handle raw food will continue to be inspected once a year.
“A restaurant that does receive raw food in, and cooks it, and chills it, and then reheats it, they do need to be checked at least three times a year,” said Frigge.
The Department of Health says these will not be the only changes to the program, they are working on requiring each restaurant to receive mandatory food training as well.